The Civil Justice Council (CJC) has launched a “rapid consultation” on how the spread of Covid-19 has changed the civil justice system, particularly with the swift expansion of remote hearings.
It has commissioned an independent review led by Dr Natalie Byrom, director of research at the Legal Education Foundation, with the support of a wider virtual working group to gather feedback on the impact of the coronavirus measures.
This review will run until Friday 15 May in order to report by 22 May.
The CJC said: “The aim of the review is to provide an overview of the operation of current measures and offer practical recommendations to inform the ongoing response to Covid.
“It will concentrate on the experience and reaction of court users. It will also provide useful ground work for any future wider review of the use of remote hearings, identifying areas where further evidence may be needed.”
CJC chair Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls, said: “It is essential that we understand quickly how court users are being affected by the widespread changes adopted by the civil justice system in response to Covid-19.
“This review is a chance for users to give feedback on how the changes are impacting them and to suggest areas of improvement. The evidence collected by this review will be invaluable in shaping the way forward for the civil justice system, both immediately and in the longer term.”
The review wants material for a literature review, people to complete a survey on the experience of remote hearings, and for people to join a remote consultation meeting.
Meanwhile, Remote Courts Worldwide, the project launched in March to enable the global justice community to share experiences of the response to the pandemic, is also looking for feedback about how remote courts are working in practice.
Organisers said an analysis of the reports from 40 jurisdictions to date indicate that technology has enabled courts to stay open, with judges taking a robust approach to pressing ahead using video technology, while the work of the courts “has become more transparent”.
Professor Richard Susskind, who is leading the project as president of the Society for Computers and Law, said: “We are delighted by the popularity of our site and thank contributors from around the globe. This second phase of our service is vital – to find out what is working well and what is not.
“Remote courts are here to stay, and we must work hard, in light of concrete experience, to improve their performance.”
Remote Courts Worldwide is a collaborative project involving the Society for Computers and Law, the UK Lawtech Delivery Panel, and Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service.